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Monday, November 21, 2005

Beazley: A Step Closer to Abolishing AWAs?

Kim Beazley's comments in an interview with 5AA Adelaide's Leon Byner today are being hyped as his strongest indication in some time that Labor would, if they win the next election, progressively abolish AWAs - a policy platform for Labor in the 2004 election, but a position that the party has so far refused to conclusively back since the departure of Mark Latham. But is it? Read on ...

LINDA (caller): My question is in regards to the industrial relations. As you said, it's a few years to the next election, and if you're successful, would the industrial relations laws be removed then?

KIM BEAZLEY: Yes they will. If we're elected at the next election, I've said we're going to tear this legislation up. It's not safe. It's gone completely down the wrong track. We'll put in place legislation that restores fairness; legislation that permits people to get access to things like penalty rates when they work on holidays.

LEON BYNER: Are you going to restore the Industrial Relations Commission as the independent umpire?

KIM BEAZLEY: Yes, as the primary focus of the independent umpire, and properly empower it to ensure that good faith bargaining to take place. So we will enable people to get access to a fair umpire, get access to representation when they want it.

LEON BYNER: Does that then mean that if somebody signs an AWA and you get into government Federally, that that AWA could be null and void?

KIM BEAZLEY: Well, no, it's a binding contract, once a contract is signed. But the point that we'd make is that we'd ensure that no individual contract could undermine an award or collective agreement.

LEON BYNER: But what if somebody's signed one and it does, but it's binding? Damage done? Can't fix it?

KIM BEAZLEY: Well, no - clearly in those sorts of situations, we'd look for opportunities, or the union movement would look for opportunities, to get that person back into a better position.

Hmmm ... surely if the Howard government can rip the red-raw bum out of a 100 year old industrial relations system it couldn't be that hard for a Beazley government to move a couple of people off AWAs and on to awards. C'mon Beez ...

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